HOMEStrategies for building awareness for the potential of peace education in Cameroon Ben Oru Mforndip
Has Democracy Enhanced Development in Africa? Conrad John Masabo
Permanent Emergency Powers in France: The ‘Law to Strengthen Internal Security and the Fight Against Terrorism’ and the Protection of Human Rights Lena Muhs
Women’s Political Representation in Sri Lanka: Leading towards Prosperity or Peril Pujika Rathnayake
Lack of empathy as a threat to peace Victoria Scheyer
The death of democracy in Honduras Daniel Bagheri S.
The Persons Who Changed the Lives of Terrorists and Criminals Surya Nath Prasad
RECENT ARTICLES Teaching Peace from Tales of the City: Peace Education through the Memoryscapes of Nagasaki Patporn Phoothong
Reflections of Refugees in Africa Wyclife Ong'eta Mose
Challenges and prospects of AU to implement the Ezulwini Consensus: The case of collective security and the use of force Tunamsifu Shirambere Philippe
The Right to Food Shant Melkonian
Freedom of Expression Under Threat in Zambia Mariateresa Garrido
Douglas Janoff on LGBTQIA Human Rights Luciana Téllez
Common Things: Communication, Community, Communal Peacebuilding Lina Patricia Forero Martínez
The political Crisis of the 2017 Honduran Election Daniel Bagheri S.
Water Security in the Sixaola River Basin Adrián Martinez Blanco and Diana Ubico Durán
Reborn Arunima Chouguley
An Open Letter to the American People: Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age Richard Falk, David Krieger, and Robert Laney
Last Updated: 07/12/2005Is war bad for business?
John A. Tures
A scholarly debate has raged over the relationship between capitalism and conflict. Some contend that capitalists act as imperialists to make money from the business of war and open up markets abroad to be dominated. Others find that war is bad for business, leading to reduced profits and greater government control over the economy. These arguments are tested using data on economic freedom and conflict. Results indicate that while some economically free countries engage in internal and external conflict, these tend to be less severe in nature and less likely to occur than cases involving economically unfree countries.
Years ago, gangsters put aside their feuds in exchange for profits, leading some to question whether war was “bad for business.” Now, with the rise of capitalism and economic freedom, as well as the relative decline in conflict worldwide, one might wonder whether the tables have turned, and economic liberalism acts as a source for peace.
Such arguments seem to contradict capitalism’s critics. Long ago, Machiavelli concluded that liberal democracies would be ideally suited for imperialism. Because they commanded greater levels of popular legitimacy, their citizenry would have fewer qualms about providing manpower and supplies for armies, since they would be “people’s armies.” Governments could channel competitive economic and political energies into fighting abroad to expand state power. Later, as Lenin argued that “imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism,” it became fashionable to associate big business with big international conflicts. A lust for profits became synonymous with a desire for international domination. More recently, political scientist Michael Doyle argued that liberal states deliberately targeted their illiberal counterparts to promote democracy and protect private property.
Such arguments explain the connection between liberal states and external conflict, but what about internal forms of conflict? Jack Donnelly (1998: 159) argues that “free markets…produce gross economic inequalities.” These domestic distortions are likely to produce grievances feeding insurgencies or societal protests. Donnelly (1998: 156) goes on to paint economic liberals as opposed to strong and active human rights policies. Therefore, governments with free markets may engage in repressive policies to ensure that economic operations remain undisturbed, triggering the potential for an internal backlash and possible war within the state.
But not all have concluded that respect for economic freedom produced conflict. Joseph Schumpeter reached the opposite conclusion, finding that capitalism and imperialism mix like oil with water. He contended that wars tend to impoverish national economies, with costs dramatically outweighing any potential economic gains from military pursuits. Additionally, with the presence of free trade, states need not conquer another to have access to desired goods; the world marketplace assures that necessities are available for purchase. Schumpeter also pointed out that states which embrace economic freedom have strong peace parties, less support for expansion, and reject politically dominant professional armies. Conflicts, according to Schumpeter, arise from those who demand special protections from free markets and autocrats who only derive their legitimacy from a xenophobic nationalism.
Political scientist Rudolph J. Rummel agrees. Long known for his work showing the connection between democracy and peace, Rummel conducted a five-year study which found support for the hypothesis that economically
Other writings examine the role that regional economic integration could play in promoting peace and security for a region. De Lombaerde (2005) writes about not only the role closer economic ties and interdependence can play for regions, and not just
John A. Tures is an assistant professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in Georgia. He has published articles in the Journal of Peace Research, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Conflict, Security and Development, American Diplomacy, the Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, the Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict, and the Online Journal for Peace and Conflict Resolution.